Online / Offline

There’s a certain moment, usually sometime in May, that I never expect but always relish. I’ll start a ride, expecting to feel the way I always feel at the beginning of the season. Not weak, but not powerful either.

Just sorta kinda there, ya know?

But something has changed.

The investment I’ve made in my legs over the years — fifteen of them or so — plus the early-season riding, suddenly pays off.

And my legs go online. At least, that’s the term I have for it. You’ve probably got your own term for the same phenomenon. Or maybe there’s a standardized, common-knowledge term for it that I don’t know about because I missed that issue of Velonews.

Whatever you call it, it’s a great sensation. Suddenly, the climbs you’ve been struggling with don’t require struggle — or at least, the struggle feels good instead of like work. Your cadence smooths out. You find yourself with a new urge to test your legs and see what they’ll do.

And if you’re me, you give into that urge with no resistance. Training schedules can wait. Today, I’m going to celebrate that my legs have gone online.

Then, as the season wears on, I start taking that feeling for granted. Or maybe it just fades away. Either way, I forget about it until the next season.

Online Again
This year, though, was a little different, because my legs went online twice. The first time was at the beginning of the season, like usual. I honestly can’t remember where I was riding; I just remember the sensation.

But then, about a month before the Leadville 100, I turfed it. And then I was off my bike for a bit, then riding slowly, and then trying to ride back at my pre-wreck level and failing.

I could tell that I was slow. My legs just weren’t there.

Until about ten days before the race. I started a climb up the Alpine Loop, expecting another long conversation with myself about how I wasn’t sure I had it in me to do Columbine and the Powerline with my shoulder (and, secretly, legs) feeling as puny as they did.

Then my legs came back online.

The difference between how they felt — from one day to the next — was startling.

Back Offline
Since the race, I’ve avoided hard rides. I’m in the mood to ride for fun, and for nothing but fun. Plus, school’s started and the time I had been using for rides is now the time I get the kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door.

But then, last Friday, the belt drive for Kenny’s Spot singlespeed came in, and I joined him to see how it felt.

And there’s no such thing as an easy ride with Kenny.

Before I go on, though, here’s the proud papa (click the images for a closer look)…

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…and his baby:

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Kenny dragged me all over the Frank trail network, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t even remotely manage to even pretend to try to think about keeping up. Eventually, though, I got to what I like to think of as the top.

I. Was. Cooked.

“We’ve got just ten minutes or so of climbing, and then it’s a couple of hike-a-bikes, and then it’s all downhill,” said Kenny, perkily.

“I don’t want to climb anymore,” I said.

Kenny looked at me, uncomprehending. It’s as if I had started speaking Hebrew or something. Which I am quite sure I had not, what with my Hebrew being quite rusty.

How, I could see him thinking, because Kenny’s thoughts are always quite plainly visible, could anyone ever not want to climb?

It’s a foreign thought to Kenny, because his season never winds down. His legs are always online. Mine, on the other hand, have gone offline for the season.

So long, legs! See you again next year.

PS: I got a chance to ride Kenny’s bike with the belt drivetrain. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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